In the 100 year history of Institute Football Club undoubtedly the most famous player ever to wear the Institute shirt was William Ballintrae Gillespie (born Kerrykeel, Donegal – died Bexley, Kent 1981.) He went on to international fame with Northern Ireland and was recognised as Northern Ireland’s joint leading goal scorer until just recently.
Billy Gillespie began his career with Institute in 1907 – 08. His first match was against the famous Idlers F.C. at Brandywell in a junior league tie which Institute won 2 -1.
It was with great regret that Institute parted with Gillespie at the start of the 1910 – 11 season when he received a tempting offer from Leeds City. He remained with Leeds for two seasons and then in 1912 transferred to the team with which his name will always be remembered – Sheffield United.
After finishing his playing career he came back to Londonderry to manage Derry City in 1932.
A final postscript to Billy Gillespie and Institute took place in the Stute’s highly successful 1965 /66 season (Junior League – City Cup – N.W. Junior Cup winners), when he was invited to present the winners medals in the City Hotel. He brought along his F. A. Cup winning medal, received when Sheffield Utd. beat Cardiff City in 1925. And, unknown to each other, by an astounding coincidence, at another function in the City hotel at the same time was Jimmy Nelson, a Cardiff City player on that same day in 1925.